Depression is largely becoming one of the most common mental health diagnosis’ in the world and it can be quite a scary diagnosis to come to terms with. In light of Mental Health Awareness Week I wanted to write about Depression including my own battles with it.
The symptoms of depression are varied and most people experience a handful of symptoms at a time or for some only few.
The main symptom is a low mood but this is more than just feeling sad. It feels like a cloud hovering over you and no matter what you do it doesn’t go away. In a lot of cases it gets to a point where you are numb and can’t see the point in doing anything.
This can lead to more severe symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, delusions and paranoia and hallucinations (I do not emphasize these as they are for extreme cases).
Depression can also include quick changing mood swings where you are happy and the slightest thing sends you to a very low point*. In addition to feeling low a person with depression can feel angry, irritable, impulsive, anxious, restless, guilty and isolated.
*This is not to be confused with bipolar disorder which also falls under the same category as depression.
As with all mental health problems (I don’t like the word disorder personally) these emotions and thought patterns can affect behaviors such as:
- Self harm
- Loss of appetite or over-eating
- Impulsive actions – such as over spending
- Sleeplessness or over-sleeping
- Avoidance of social events
- Lose of interest in sex
- Extreme procrastination or no motivation to do anything
- Physical aches
As I mentioned before, you do not have to have all of these symptoms in order to have depression and some may come and go.
There are 3 main treatments for depression – medication, counselling, CBT.
Medication – There are a lot of types of medication to help with depression and each work in a different way. Never self medicate. Depression doesn’t require a psychological assessment and all NHS GPs (local doctors) should be qualified to prescribe anti-depressants. You should discuss with a doctor the side effects of anti-depressants and your own condition to find the best one (sometimes it takes a trial and error approach – I had to try 2 before I found the one I am on now).
Counselling – In my opinion counselling is an important part of recovery from depression as it is often triggered by experiences or events in one’s life. I also think that it should be used in conjunction with a form of medication (but that’s my opinion not gospel).
CBT – CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and is used to identify thought patterns and behaviors for all kinds of mental health problems. I personally had it for Social Anxiety but the main principle is the same. It identifies the negative behavior and the thoughts around it then looks at how this can be altered. By changing the behavior the thought process can be changed too. It takes a while and isn’t for everyone but to me it was magic.
I have battled with Depression for a quarter of my life now and I probably will for the rest of my life. Whilst I do not advertise my mental health when I first meet someone I am not ashamed of it when it comes up in conversation. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to live with Depression or any kind of mental health problem and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
For those with Depression: Keep going, you are stronger than you know and it can get better.
For those who are friends or family of someone with Depression: Please don’t tell them to get over it or that it’s in their head. It’s not your job to look after us but words of support and sometimes a helping hand can never go amiss.
If you feel you have depression please do not hesitate to contact your GP and set up an appointment.
If you feel at risk of suicide at any point please call an ambulance, go to A&E or call Samaritans on 116 123 who are free to talk to (UK number only).
For more information on Depression please refer to:
Disclaimer: I do not have any qualifications regarding Mental Health. I speak from experience and my research on Mind whilst writing this post.